DRIVER SAFETY: Ipswich Pro Drive owner David Cullen says passengers who are uncomfortable should not get back in the car.
DRIVER SAFETY: Ipswich Pro Drive owner David Cullen says passengers who are uncomfortable should not get back in the car. Cordell Richardson

74% of teens admit to being scared for their life in the car

CLOSE to three quarters of high school students have admitted to being scared for their lives as car passengers.

The state's peak motoring body, RACQ, is issuing a wake-up call to teens and their parents in the lead-up to school holidays.

RACQ spokeswoman Clare Hunter said the research, conducted as part of the club's award-winning "docudrama" road safety education program, highlighted the alarming reality that faced young adults when they hopped in the passenger seat.

"Teens can feel they're in danger in a car for a range of reasons - the driver might be travelling too fast, or perhaps they've been drinking or are distracted," Ms Hunter said.

"Safety isn't just up to the driver.

"Passengers also have a role to play too.

"Not only can they lower their risk of crash by not being a distraction, but also by speaking up when they're feeling their lives are at risk."

Ipswich Pro Drive owner Dave Cullen had been in the passenger seat of learner cars for 15 years and said young people and those who had recently passed their driving test were at risk on the roads.

Mr Cullen said the RACQ research did not surprise him.

"This week I was doing a lesson and the guy was telling me he had stopped driving with his housemate because he was scared to be in the car with him," Mr Cullen said.

"We tell young drivers it doesn't matter what's going on around them, they need to focus on what they are doing.

"We try to impress that on kids. It doesn't matter if someone is beeping their horn or carrying on, you need to focus on what's going on around you and pull over if you need to."

Mr Cullen said in his experience young people were most likely to be involved in a traffic crash 12 to 18 months after they got their licence.

"They feel a bit invincible, their confidence has built up and that's the danger period," he said.

"They get too comfortable in a car and forget about everything.

"They're not as good as they think they are.

"It takes a long time to become a good driver and most learn from their mistakes."

He said it was difficult for anybody, not only young people, to confront a bad driver.

"It's very hard to tell a driver they are being dangerous so it's best to stay out of the car and don't get back in," Mr Cullen said.

"It's very hard to start an argument with a friend. It's not only kids, it's right across the board."

Phones, food and dancing distracting teens in the car

DANCING to songs, offering food to the driver and holding a phone up to show an Instagram post are some of the dangerous practices teens have admitted to while in the car with the mates.

New RACQ research shows more than 80 per cent of teens admitted to distracting the driver. RACQ spokeswoman Clare Hunter said it was clear the responsibility passengers played in ensuring the driver stayed focussed on the road needed a lot of work.

"Dancing to songs, offering food to the driver and holding your phone up to show off an Instagram post could distract the driver for two seconds," Ms Hunter said.

"When driving at 60 km/h that's enough to travel up to 33 metres completely blind. We know this is a time to celebrate the end of term but behaving sensibly on the roads could be the difference between lifelong memories and a life lost."

It comes as an inquiry into the National Road Safety Strategy revealed Australia suffered from flaws in accountability, funding, and technology that had directly impacted the rate of road deaths.

Among the 12 recommendations was the appointment of a federal cabinet minister who would focus on the hidden epidemic of road trauma which was expected to cost the economy $300 billion by 2030. For details see roadsafety.gov.au.



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